The Philadelphia 76ers are in town on a back-to-back. They played the Boston Celtics at home last night. They’re 0–2, but gave both the Celtics and Washington Wizards a run for their money.
Joel Embiid played in both losses. For the ultra-talented #3 pick in the 2014 draft, they were just his 32nd and 33rd career games played. He hasn’t been cleared to play on back-to-back nights, so he’s sitting out tonight. He has yet to play in Toronto. On the bright side, that significantly boosts the chances of a Raptors win. The Sixers are back in Toronto on December 23 on the back end of a home-and-home with a day off in between, so hopefully Embiid will make his debut north of the border then.
The Sixers also have the 2016 and 2017 #1 overall picks, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. They’re very talented, but the Raptors’ experience and depth should still give them a decisive edge. The Raptor starters outside of JV and Powell looked rusty in the opener, and should be looking to get on track. They head out on a 2-week, 6-game west coast road trip after tonight. It goes Spurs-Warriors-Lakers-Blazers-Nuggets-Jazz. 3–3 would be a good result. 1–5 is conceivable if they don’t get things clicking.
DeMar DeRozan is playing with a flu. Amir Johnson is starting for Embiid. The crowd shows the former Raptor some love.
DeRozan looks like himself. Simmons is a giant Rajon Rondo. Kid is gonna have a sick prime. An Ibaka 3 and Lowry-to-JV alleyoop warm the hearts of the ACC faithful.
Dario Saric comes in for Simmons. He’s another youngster that’s going to be really good. Big, skilled, and a gamer, he’s a cross between Toni Kukoc and Lamar Odom.
DeRozan is doing work with 13 points, including a couple of and-1's showcasing his clinical footwork.
The bench comes in and things get nuts, lots of back-and-forth transition action. Poeltl botched a couple of plays. OG hit a corner 3!
End of Q1: Raps 36, 76ers 19
Delon is slicing and dicing the Philly D. Drake is here.
I sit very far, but that’s him behind Casey.
The bench unit still looks good. It’ll be interesting to see how they do against the Spurs and Warriors the next couple of games.
The starters filter back in. JJ Reddick looks exhausted for a couple of possessions, draws a charge on Powell and crosses half court like a dying old man lost in the desert. Then he darts across the court and around a screen at full speed. Powell is left behind badly, turns on the jets to catch up and fouls him on a jumper. That’s Powell’s 3rd foul. Casey sits him down for Delon.
JV goes down clutching his ankle but stays in the game. DeRozan draws a foul on Saric at the halftime buzzer, and sinks 2 free throws. He leads all scorers with 23. He always kills Philly, and will probably get 40 tonight.
The Raptors are 4-of-18 from 3. Bebe is starting the second half. Ibaka opens up strong with 8 quick points, including 2 3's. DeRozan finds Simmons guarding him and gives him a professional shakeoff move for an easy midrange bucket.
Powell picks up his fourth foul early and sits. DeRozan is up to 30 points, Ibaka has 21. Bebe is filling in nicely for JV. Lowry gets it going late in the quarter, driving and dishing and hitting some threes.
End of Q3: Raps 102, 76ers 71
CJ Miles tweaks an ankle but keeps playing. Poeltl is up to 12 points entirely on pick-and-roll drive-and-dishes under the hoop.
Siakam is in. We might not see the starters again tonight.
Bruno’s in with 6 minutes left! His first stat is a foul. He catches the ball near halfcourt in transition and makes the right pass. He fumbles it away when Bebe tries to feed him on the baseline. He gets a steal on the perimeter and feeds Siakam downcourt for a layup. He misses a corner 3. He’s not ready, but let’s see if these stunts get any better over the rest of the year.
The Sixers fall to 0–3 but Fultz and Simmons are gonna be good. With Embiid and Saric, they will be a problem within a couple of years.
The Raps have taken care of a couple of bad teams to start off 2–0. With the Spurs and Warriors on the road to start off a 6-game road trip, we are about to see how good this team really is. Hopefully JV and Miles’ ankles are okay.